We offer two ranges of inflatable kayaks; both are high end and the prices are not dissimilar, so how do you choose between them? The “winner” depends on which characteristics you value most, as outlined below.
- Performance. The Sliders take it. The Chelans are very good compared with other inflatable kayaks, but the Sliders are faster still.
- Tracking (ability to go in a straight line), again both are very good for inflatables but the Sliders win. The Sliders track amazingly well and in shallow waters/low windspeeds, if you are a reasonably accomplished paddler, you could probably get away without the skeg.
- Comfort. A win for the Chelans, which have amazingly comfortable seats and pneumatically adjustable bases. The Slider seats are not bad, but the Chelan seats are better. The design of the Chelan seats means you can (but don’t have to, the base cushion is inflatable) sit a few inches higher (somewhat akin to a sit-on-top), which some people like, and some don’t. With the Slider seats you basically sit at floor level.
- Stability. The Chelans are wider, so feel very stable. The Sliders feel a bit less stable initially, but “stiffen up” as they heel slightly and you soon get used to it. (They are less stable than most inflatable kayaks but more stable than narrow hard-shell kayaks.)
- Storage. The Chelans fold smaller, and more easily so, mainly because the Sliders have those hard plastic ends that give them such good performance (everything is a compromise!). Dropstitch fabric is also inherently stiffer (even without air in), ie more resistant to folding, than a conventional tube. Folding a Slider is not actually difficult but requires a particular technique.
- Transport. Both types of boat have substantial backpacks as standard.